Are you fascinated by photography, inspired by culinary stars, or an avid ballroom dancer or fitness buff? Then chances are quite good that there's a cruise with your name on it. Hobbyists cruises, in which lines and organizers offer planned activities in a breathtaking span of options -- which include tracking wildlife, indulging in Titanic-mania, vineyard-hopping to wine tastings and more -- are on the rise.
Themed cruises are more popular than ever, with a notable number of cruise virgins opting for them as an incentive to try a cruise. They may be worried about feeling trapped or isolated onboard, unable to relate to the seasoned cruiser, so a chance to immerse themselves in their passion with like-minded people can help them embrace a new type of vacation.
Before booking, be sure to research what type of theme cruise would suit you. The choices vary. You could opt for a block booking of cabins by a fan group, a series of lectures and workshops organised by the cruise line or even a full-ship charter, in which activities are fully centered on that trip's theme. The difference could mean anything from a diversion to keep your interest for a few hours a day to an all-encompassing adventure. As complements, all of these offer the usual in-port adventures.
This year's offerings are as dynamic as ever. From nude river cruises to radio soap operas, cruise operators and specialist holiday firms have something for everyone. Below is a selection of what is on offer for 2013, but please come and look again, as we will be updating the content on a regular basis. (And if you want us to include a trip that is not on the list, don't hesitate to contact us by e-mailing email@example.com.)
Details: This cruise is a fantastic chance to enjoy the peaceful waterways and superb beers of the river Danube with Avalon Waterways beer tasting cruise. Aboard the comfortable and well appointed Avalon Expression you will sail the Danube from the Austrian capital of Vienna with its grand imperial architecture and imposing St Stephan's Cathedral and head west until you reach the characterful German city of Munich. You will walk the streets of Vienna guided by knowledgeable experts who will immerse you in the culture and history of the city, see the famed Lipizzaner horse of the Spanish Riding School, sample fine local wines at the town of Dürnstein-Melk where you will see the ruins of Richard the Lionheart's medieval prison and even visit the spectacular fairytale castle of Neuschwanstein, a romantic folly built high in German's Bavarian Alps.
Along the way you will also be accompanied by expert brewers and tasters of fine beer, who will teach you all about the local's favourite tipples, as well as providing you with many of the regions famous beers. Throw in a visit to one of Munich's famed Biergarten's and this trip becomes a beer lovers dream, as well as a fantastic way to indulge in the beautiful landscape of the Danube.
Caveat:Book well in advance to insure you gain a place on the exclusive beer cruise.
Details: Foodies and travellers combine on this cruise of a stretch of coast famed for its superb food and wines. Sailing from Southampton aboard the Azamara Journey , you will explore the cheeses, seafood and wines of Nantes and Bordeaux, before indulging in rich Rioja and tapas in scenic Bilbao. Along your route, as you sail south to the Portuguese capital of Lisbon with Azamara Club Cruises, you will be able to head ashore for many wonderful excursions, such as wine tasting in St. Emilion, visits to the Port Lodges of Lisbon or walks along the highest sand dunes in Europe in Arcachon. And with complimentary evening events, and professional butlers for suite passengers, your time onboard will be spent in just as much luxury as your time ashore. A must for all food and wine enthusiasts, this cruise will allow you to see the full glory of this culinary heaven, and enjoy all its edible delights.
Caveat: Remember to pack a few warm items, as the bay of Biscay can be cold and windy at times.
Details: The coastline of South America is a beautiful and varied place, and now Crystal Cruises offers you the chance to see it in all its glory, from the comfort of your cabin surrounded by the delicacies of the Crystal Wine and Food Festival. While aboard the Crystal Symphony you will sail from the beautiful city of Valparaíso in Chile, famed for its flowers and vibrancy, all the way up the western coast of South America, passing through the Panama Canal before traversing the Caribbean and reaching the sundrenched city of Miami. You will be able to head ashore and enjoy the immersive beauty of the Caribbean, from the sweltering heat of the rainforests, to the idyllic white sands of the island of Jamaica. Crystal Cruises will also treat you with a food themed festival while aboard, meaning you can while away your evenings in this tropical paradise in true luxury, with renowned chefs, sommeliers and culinary experts travelling with you to create a memorable food experience. A rare chance to discover a fascinating facet of the world and delicious cuisine, this cruise is not to be missed.
Caveat: Remember to pack your formal evening wear to participate fully in the ship's evening meals
Details: If you are both a keen explorer and a golf fan then this cruise is an absolute must for you. Setting sail from Southampton aboard the Azamara Quest you will be welcomed aboard with cocktails and a briefing from your crew, before the ship makes its way towards Guernsey and from there to Cork, where you will head ashore to play the Old Head Golf Links, perched on the edge of the wild Atlantic. Alternatively you could play the Fota Island Deerpark Course or enjoy a guided tour of beautiful historic Cork. The ship then continues on to vibrant Dublin, Liverpool, Belfast and Invergordon, all of which will open the doors to their famed golf courses for you, as well as giving you the opportunity to envoy the many varied cultures of the British Isles. Once you arrive in Leith you will go on to enjoy the second round of the 144th Open Golf Championship at the Old Course St Andrews.
Stay aboard from Scotland and this well appointed cruise will take you up the beautiful coast of Norway, visiting iconic ports such as picturesque Bergen, Tromso and Europe's most northerly point, the apply names North Cape. Coming to an end in Copenhagen, this cruise takes in some of the world's finest golf courses, allows you to see some of the world's finest golfers as well as some truly beautiful scenery.
Caveat: Remember to pack appropriate clothing to insure you will be allowed to play on all the course on the route!
Details: In a round trip setting sail from London's historic port, this cruise offers you the chance to take in the rugged and wild coastline of the United Kingdom. From the Channel Islands to Waterford, Holyhead to Greenock, Dublin to Portland, this cruise will shine a light into every nook and cranny of this remarkable coastline, allowing you to see these islands from a rare perspective. What is more, while aboard the Crystal Serenity you will be able to enjoy Crystal Cruises Golf theme pack, allowing you to step ashore and enjoy some of the world's finest golf courses, all in the company of PGA experts who will chat and help you hone your game. For when you're off the golf course there are many shore excursions for you to enjoy. Travellers can visit the historic Tower of London, see the Channel Islands from a speeding RIB, play a round of gold at Waterford's Faithlegg Golf Course and visit the Jameson's Distillery and Guinness Brewery in Dublin. This cruise gives travellers a chance to experience the many varied dimensions of British culture, cuisine, sport and history, and is not to be missed!
Caveat:Remember to dress appropriately for the UK's top gold courses to avoid disappointment.
Details: Discover the rich heritage and history of the British Isles from a whole new vantage point, as Crystal Cruises offers you the chance to cruise the lochs, rivers and coastline of Ireland, Scotland, Wales and the Channel Island. Even more than this, you will be able to explore and enjoy the cradle of golf with Crystal Cruises Golf themed cruises, stepping ashore to play on some of the most famed courses in the world, while PGA experts hold talks on board. During this cruise the Crystal Symphony will sail from Dover and thread its way up through the Irish Sea, calling at Guernsey, Waterford, Holyhead and Liverpool amongst other ports as she sails to Dublin. Along the way you will be able to see feudal Sark by horse drawn carriage, wander the corridors of sumptuous stately manors, walk the rugged mountains of North Wales and enjoy a round of gold at Carden Park. A rare chance to see the British Isles in all their rugged splendour this cruise is a must for golf lovers.
Caveat: Remember to pack clothing appropriate for wearing on the prestigious gold courses!
Details: Here's an opportunity for book early for a summer's cruise that takes in some of the best golfing destinations around the UK and Ireland. Passengers on the Crystal Symphony can look forward to visiting ports in England, Ireland, Wales, Scotland and Guernsey, where they will be accompanied by PGA trainer, John Clark, who will help them to get the best out of the country's golf courses. They will also be joined on the cruise by the famous American golfer ‘Billy' Casper, who will regale audiences with anecdotes from his time working with golf legends Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player, as well as from his stint captaining the 1979 US Ryder Cup team.
Caveat: Non golfers needn't despair! A full and varied alternative itinerary is available for those not keen on hitting the fairways.
Details: Take to the beautiful and savage waters of the Arctic Circle and the frigid Canadian north as you trace the doomed but famed footsteps of explorer John Franklin and his quest for the Northwest Passage. Setting sail aboard Quark Cruise's sturdy Sea Explorer you will make your way from the rugged coast of Greenland, visiting ancient homesteads, vast fjords and hikes across the wild tundra, and up to the Canadian island of Cobourg where you will seek out illusive Polar Bears and other beautiful creatures. From there you will sail to the Canadian city of Toronto where you will spend your final night of the trip enjoying the vibrant urban atmosphere after two weeks in the wilds.
Along the route of the cruise you will have the opportunity to enjoy numerous varied excursions and trips which will make this cruise a truly memorable one. You will visit majestic glaciers, and maybe even witness a calving, the birth of a new glacier from the mother, you will witness demonstrations of traditional kayaks as well as watch the rich and varied wildlife of these frozen seas. At Lancaster Sound and Leopold Island you will see huge seabird colonies, a Canadian Mounted Police base as well as the sombre but powerful gravesite of Franklin's expedition. With the recent discovery of HMS Investigator, one of the ships sent out to search for Franklin the expedition has returned to the public spotlight, and this cruise is a once in a lifetime chance to appreciate the beauty and wildness of Arctic exploration.
Caveat: Remember that this cruise is a real adventure in a wild environment, and delays due to weather should be expected and taken in stride.
Details: Step aboard the sturdy and comfortable MS Midnatsol from Norway's Hurtigruten, a cruise line which has become synonymous with journeys through the romantic fjords and hunt for the illusive Northern Lights beyond the Arctic Circle. Leaving from the beautiful port of Bergen, famed for its brightly painted wooden seafront facade, the ship will thread the many inlets and islands of the Norwegian coast, calling at sleek and modern Ålesund, the medieval cathedral city of Trondheim and Kirkenes, the turning point for this round voyage just 10 kilometres from the Russian border.
Along the way you will be able to take part in many fantastic shore excursions, such as a wilderness adventure camp in the wilds of the north, dog sledding along plateaus and mountains, perhaps giving you a view of the Northern Lights as you race through the snow and an exclusive trip to the Northern Lights Planetarium. You can take a night-time snowmobile ride Mehamn, the world most northerly mainland town or enjoy a stirring midnight concert in the Arctic Cathedral. On board you will be joined by expert astronomers and scientists, such as Dr John Mason MBE and Ian Ridpath who will provide all their knowledge to help you spot the ever illusive lights. An experience you will tell stories about for years to come this cruise is a must for adventurers everywhere.
Caveat:Wrap warmly and bring hats, scarves and gloves as the Norwegian winter is bitterly cold!
Details: Hurtigruten have gained a reputation for taking their passengers beyond the parameters of a traditional cruise, bringing out the adventurer in everyone and getting people closer to some of the landscapes and wildlife of a selection of inspiring destinations. This cruise gives passengers aboard Hurtigruten's Fram the opportunity to get up close to polar bears in their own habitat; the island of Spitsbergen in the Svalbard Archipelago. The voyage, which takes in glaciers, rugged cliffs and icy landscapes, as well as the unusual spectacle of the midnight sun, will circumnavigate the island, giving excellent opportunities to observe the local wildlife, as well as to learn about it from an expert who will accompany passengers onboard.
Caveat: The cruise's planned landings are subject to weather and ice conditions. Passengers are advised to bring warm wind and water resistant clothing as well as sturdy footwear and a small backpack.
Details: Set off with Azamara Club Cruises across the topaz waters of the Mediterranean, and experience the finest art the European continent has to offer. While aboard the sumptuous Azamara Journey, complete with butler service and a rich array of delicious wines and spirits, you will sail from elegant Lisbon to lively Barcelona, experiencing storied Gibraltar, grand Carcassonne and sun drenched Cadiz on the way. The artistic and cultural splendours along the voyage are varied and beautiful. From the ancient watchtowers of Cadiz overlooking the sea, the Dali Museum in Figueres and Valencia's City of Arts and Sciences, to the soaring splendour of Gaudi's La Sagrada Familia, a rich display of art and history will be yours to experience. You will also, thanks to Azamara's Evening itinerary, be able to head ashore at Gibraltar to the stalactite rich St. Michaels Cave, where the Royal Gibraltar Regiment Band shall perform for you as you enjoy a fine meal and wine in stunning surroundings. A treat for all the senses, this cruise will immerse you in some of the finest art and culture the world has to offer.
Caveat: Remember to pack your formal evening wear to participate fully in the ship's evening itinerary!
Details: Indulge in the rich musical legacy of the River Danube, as this river cruise takes you through the beautiful heart of Europe. Aboard Lüftner Cruises' elegant Amadeus Brilliant, you will travel the waterways of Austria and Hungary, taking in the imperial splendour of Budapest and Vienna. A skilled musical ensemble shall be present on board, providing regular concerts, which will be augmented by an informative and enlightening lecture, allowing passengers to learn every aspect of the regions unique musical history. When heading ashore, passengers can tour the grand cities of Bratislava, Vienna and Budapest, visit the rococo masterpiece that is Schoenbrunn Palace, and experience the “Celebration of the Great Masters” excursion, allowing you to discover the Danube's Musical Maestros. A must for music lovers, this cruise gives you a glimpse into the lives of musical greats from Strauss to Mozart, all from the luxury of your cabin.
Caveat: Remember to pack your formal evening wear to participate fully in the ship's evening itinerary, and book shore excursions in advance.
Details: Cruise the picturesque waters of the mighty Rhine with Lüftner Cruises aboard the Amadeus Diamond, and take in the musical heritage of the great river. As this cruise takes you along the majestic waterway, from Basel in Switzerland all the way to the sea at old Amsterdam, you will experience the historic cities of Bonn, Cologne, Strasbourg and Koblenz, and your evenings will be filled with fine music, provided by our onboard ensemble. You will set off ashore and visit such remarkable locations as Beethoven's House in Bonn, experience live concerts in Strasbourg and Amsterdam and a wine tour through the vineyards of Alsace. With a superb array of hospitality and entertainment available onboard, with complimentary meals, wines and musical performances, this river cruise lets you enjoy the beauty of this iconic river in absolute style and comfort.
Details: In a cruise harking back to the elegance of a bygone age, Crystal Cruises offers you the chance to sail aboard the aptly named Crystal Symphony , in the company of the Harry James Orchestra, allowing for nights of dancing on the ocean. As the ship sails from Lisbon to Miami, your evenings will be filled with lavish dances, lively band performances, and full tutelage, meaning that anyone from an experienced dancer to a complete novice can cut an elegant figure on the floor. While the nights will be filled with this decadence, the days will not miss out, as all manner of shore excursions, from walks through timeless Lisbon to deep sea fishing off Grand Turk, Diving and snorkelling, are available to make this trip a truly memorable experience. A chance to revel in the glamour of the ballroom, while crossing this iconic ocean, this cruise is not to be missed!
Caveat: Remember to pack your formal evening wear to participate fully in the ship's evening itinerary!
Details: Set sail with Saga Cruises aboard the comfortable and well appointed
Saga Pearl II, and cruise the north coast of Europe, remembering the history of the two World Wars and the great sacrifices made. Sailing from historic Dover, the ship will wind its way to the rocky islands of Heligoland, where the Royal Navy and the German High Seas Fleet first clashed in the First World War, all the way to the port of Dunkirk, where the flotilla of “little ships” plucked the BEF from the beaches. Along the way you will be able to head ashore and visit the beautiful cities of Antwerp and Ostend, as well as their Art Museums, markets and Cathedrals. You will also be able to experience the history, art, culture and romance of Amsterdam, Holland's capital city and learn more about the Dutch resistance, and visit the stark remnants of the German Atlantic Wall. Once on board you will be welcomed by a cocktail party and captain's dinner, to make you at home on board, as the ship begins its voyage. A must for history lovers and an excellent opportunity to honour the sacrifices of the past, this cruise will show you a whole new side of Europe all in the luxury of your own cabin.
Caveat: Remember to dress warmly for the chill winds of the North Sea.
Details: Cruise the rivers of northern Europe and celebrate the allied liberation of France from occupation during World War 2. Passengers can board the ship for a week long cruise that will pay homage to the soldiers' journey through France – boarding the Creativity, in Paris and heading towards Vernon – taking in Rouen, Les Andelys and Auvers sur Ouse. Passengers will be joined aboard by a series of guest lecturers who will, through a series of onboard lectures and shore excursions, help them to understand the history of the region and the war-time connections that made the region such a key wartime battlefield.
Caveat: Please check the Avalon Waterways website for up to date details of the lecture programme and speakers.
Details: Crystal Cruises offers you the chance to see the vaunted East Coast of America, from New York city and the majestic Statue of Liberty, Charlestown in South Carolina with its rich history of wars and revolutions, all the way to the vibrant heat of Miami in Florida. While aboard the Crystal Serenity you will also be able to enjoy Crystal Cruises Microbrew Theme, which will guide you through the local beers and wines of the American coastline, with wine experts, sommeliers and expert chiefs all on hand to make your culinary tour all the better. As you travel in this luxury, you will also be able to dine beneath the lights of New York, as well as see the city from the sky by helicopter. In Brooklyn you will be able to head ashore and sample the best of the local cuisine, while on the island of Grand Turk you will be able to take to the topaz waters of the Caribbean on a power snorkelling trip. Tours of the stunning islands of the Caribbean are available, by jeep, boat and dune buggy, meaning that passengers will be able to experience the varied geography of this cruise, from the rough and rugged East Coast, to the soft and warm sands of the Caribbean. A prime opportunity to experience the food and drink of the America's from the comfort of your cabin, this cruise is not one to be missed.
Caveat:Book shore excursions well in advance to avoid disappointment!
Details: Few locations in the world are as iconic and significant as the vast expanse of sand and battered bunkers of the Normandy beaches, where the vast D-Day invasion made landfall. With this cruise from Avalon Cruises you can pair these historic sights with the elegance and culture of Paris and Rouen, ancient centres of art and cuisine all grouped along the banks of the mighty Seine. Aboard the Avalon Creativity you will cruise all the way down one of Frances' greatest waterways, from the bright lights and soaring architecture of the capital to Caudebec, from where you will be driven to the beaches of Normandy, an opportunity which makes this cruise a must for history lovers. Along the way there will be a wide range of excursions for travellers to choose from, such as onboard pastry courses, trips to Bizy Castle, see Rouen's great cathedral and astronomical clock, and visit Napoleon and Josephine's Chateau of Malmaison. This river cruise is a remarkable opportunity for students of culture and history to see a rich cross section of France's varied history, all from the comfort of your own cabin.
Caveat:Be sure to bring a camera so as not to miss out on the iconic sights and locations of Paris, Rouen and Omaha beach!
Details: As family entertainment goes, getting to meet favourite Nickelodeon characters such as Sponge Bob Squarepants, Dora the explorer, the fairly-odd parents and the stars of iCarly, makes for quite a special cruise. Passengers traveling aboard the Norwegian Epic or the Norwegian Jewel will be able to mingle with the Nickelodeon stars as well as take part in special onboard games and activities, such as singing and dancing, watching exclusive premieres of Nickelodeon TV shows and taking part in the channel's signature ‘slime time' game show. These children's activities are intended to help bring families together over long cruises, giving them plenty of opportunities to play together as well as providing some time alone for parents.
Dates: Multiple cruises on selected Costa ships in 2014.
Details: Everyone knows that the sea air is good for you, but Costa Cruises has gone one further with the introduction of their health and wellness cruises, aimed at giving passengers the full spa treatment to make their holiday that bit more relaxing. Passengers can book a place on the Wellness programme aboard the Costa Mediterranea or the Costa Atlantica, while passengers traveling on the Costa Magica, Costa Fortuna, Costa Victoria, and Costa Classica can also partake in therapeutic ‘Harmony and Relaxation' treatments. Guests can also visit the exclusive Samsara Spas aboard selected ships.
Caveat: Watch out for treatments that cost extra or that aren't included under the wellness package.
Dates: Multiple cruises on selected MSC Cruises' ships in 2014.
Details: MSC Cruises want you to have a more balanced experience aboard their ships and are encouraging passengers to replenish both their bodies and their minds in one of their onboard Aurea spas. There are a number of packages for people looking to incorporate the spa experience more fully into their cruise. Passengers on the MSC Divina, MSC Splendida, MSC Fantasia, MSC Magnifica, MSC Poesia, MSC Orchestra and the MSC Musica, can enjoy a Wellness package for two, including massages and special treatments, while single gentlemen or ladies travelling on these ships can consider a male or female only spa experience.
Caveat: Be careful to keep an eye on what treatments are included under the spa packages and remember that extra treatments may cost extra.
Details: This cruise provides travellers with a chance to fulfil a real lifetime wish, to travel around the world. Aboard the luxurious and intimate Silver Whisper you will have a chance to visit some of the most remarkable places in the world, as Silversea Cruises offers you the chance to sail all the way from Los Angelis to Fort Lauderdale, taking in the waters of the Pacific, Atlantic, Indian and Southern Oceans, the Bay of Bengal and the South China sea. Calling at ports ranging from Singapore to Dakar, Hong Kong to San Juan this cruise is full of activities and shore excursions, as varied and exotic as the destinations themselves.
From visiting the giant tikis of Taiohae on the Marquesas Islands, snorkelling off Bora Bora and visiting the Zoological Gardens of Melbourne to visiting the jungle reserves of Madagascar, Half-Moon beach in the Maldives and the Castillio San Felipe del Morro, the great Spanish fortress of San Juan in Puerto Rico there is a vast range of sights and experiences for you to enjoy on this globetrotting cruise. A rare opportunity to do something which many people list as their most distant dream, this cruise should not be missed!
Caveat: Book well in advance as this cruise is sure to fill up quickly!
Details: Whodunit Productions will be stepping onboard a variety of Royal Caribbean ships to bring a sense of mystery and intrigue to your cruise. With comical shows and performances, you will have the chance to solve murder mysteries at sea. This is not one for the meek, as you will be given your own character to play. All cruises leave from America and are priced in U.S. dollars.
Details: What better way could there be to celebrate the coming of Christmas than to take in the joviality and festive charm of the famed Christmas markets of Germany? With Avalon Cruises you can do just this, as the luxurious Avalon Vista will be winding its way down the peaceful Rhine from the beautiful city of Frankfurt to Basel, taking in the beautiful landscape, wintery treats and of course rich Glühwein along the way. From Frankfurt you will sail to Heidelberg, home of the world's largest barrel of wine, the fifty eight thousand gallon Great Vat, as well as the imposing ruins of Heidelberg Castle. Here you will explore a Christmas market spread over five picturesque squares through the city. Strasbourg in France is the host of your next market, one of the oldest in all Europe, and here you will be able to enjoy fine bistros in the French district, as well as the majesty of Strasbourg Cathedral. Before you finally reach the splendour of Basel, you will see the rugged splendour of the Black Forest, as well as its famed cakes, hams and peaceful wooden towns, such as Breisach the location of your final market. This festive cruise is a perfect trip for those wishing to immerse themselves in the Christmas spirit.
Caveat:These Christmas cruises are extremely popular, so be sure to book well in advance to avoid disappointment!